DUNNING — At Draft Bar Chicago, Christmas is everywhere.
With twinkling lights, decorated trees, snowflakes and candy canes hanging from the ceiling, patrons of the bar at 8221 W. Irving Park Road are immersed in a winter wonderland. Mini sleighs, Santa hats, bow ties and felt elves even line the bar’s drink selections, which features holiday-themed drinks.
This is the seventh year the bar’s put on a Christmas extravaganza, and it grows every season. This year, the bar has added more ornaments and decorations to its collection, which now stands at about 500, said owner Mike Fazio.
“We have been doing it every year, and it keeps getting bigger and bigger,” said Fazio, who spent about 25 hours decorating the bar.
This year, new additions include two wooden soldiers at each corner of the bar, two red and white fake trees at the door and a large Grinch balloon keeping an eye on patrons. The balloon’s a favorite of the owner, who dresses up as the Grinch at every holiday party, Fazio said. The patio is also decked out with giant candy canes, heated lamps and colored wreaths.
Fazio’s fiancé, Teresa Giannini, who co-owns the bar, said decorations come from the couple’s trips around the Midwest and items they’ve collected over the years. This year’s decorations also include items from Giannini’s mother, who was a big fan of Christmas.
“Just not too long ago, my dad wanted us to empty the attic at the house,” she said. “My mom passed away almost 20 years ago, and [she] was really into Christmas, but he was going to throw a lot of it away.”
Giannini was able to snag angels, dolls that dance and a large snowman that now sit by the bar’s entrance.
“When I look at them, I think of my mom,” she said.
The Christmas bar is popular among neighbors and in the community, said bartender Mima Santucci. She said it beats other bars on the Far Northwest Side and nearby suburbs, attracting passersby and regulars who want a touch of Christmas without going too far.
“I have been to many places, and this is the best,” Santucci said. “I have people who come in here just to take pictures.”
Like the bar’s owners, Santucci is a big fan of Christmas and said her house has the same amount of decorations as the bar. Coming to work always boosts her mood, especially with the continuous Christmas music, she said.
The owners said they see the holidays as a time to unite the community, bring joy to everyone’s faces and celebrate the good with friends.
“It seems like everyone is in their joyous state and is hospitable and kind,” Giannini said. “It should be like that all year.”
Draft Bar will host a Christmas event 6-9 p.m. Saturday that will have free food and hot chocolate, a visit from the Grinch and Dominic the Donkey — a real one. The event is free, but owners ask for a $20 donation that will go toward the Harlem Avenue Little Italy Business Association to support small businesses.
Each guest will also receive goodie bags and gift cards from local shops.
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